Consequences of a criminal record

Receiving a criminal conviction will change your life, period. And, it can happen to almost anyone.

Let’s face it: a lot people commit a crime at some point in their lives. They just don’t always get caught.

Try to remember your youth:

  • have you ever drank a little too much and driven home afterwards?
  • have you ever told someone that you’re going to hurt them?
  • have you ever tried to fight someone who didn’t want to fight?
  • have you ever smoked marijuana or some other illegal drug?

I am not condoning crimes and I am not saying that people commit crimes often. But, let’s be real: a lot of, if not most, people commit a crime at some point.

So, what happens when you are convicted of a crime and, as a result, receive a criminal record? Answer: your life has forever changed. It’s a sad truth and it shouldn’t be underestimated.

First, your travel plans are “out the window”. With a record, you can still travel from province to province in Canada. But, other countries, like America, might refuse you entry. And, that might never change: if you get a pardon or have your record “wiped clean”, foreign countries might STILL refuse you entry, even several decades later. Border guards yield a lot of power – depending on the circumstances, some might let you in and some might not…

Also consider that if you are visitor to Canada (i.e. on a student visa or a temporary work permit), then you could be deported. And, if you are a landed immigrant, you could be deported or you may be prevented from applying for citizenship for several years.

Your school and education can also be affected. Some educational programs require a criminal record check before an applicant is accepted.

Your employment prospects are also affected. You won’t be surprised to hear that lawyers, doctors, police officers, teachers, and other professionals are required to undergo criminal record checks. But, there are also other jobs that have been closed to you…

Believe it or not, McDonalds sometimes requires criminal record checks. And, why not? There are plenty of people looking for work and McDonalds can be picky… Why would they hire someone who has a criminal record?

And, if you want to work with or near kids, then you can count on having a criminal record check. This includes teachers, as well as tradespeople and construction workers, who work for a school district.

You can also think twice about volunteering… I’ve volunteered at many organizations and it was not uncommon to have a criminal record check.

And, if you’re a hunter, you may be prevented from ever getting a firearm.

Bottom-line: next time you hear someone receive a “light” sentence (as if there is such a thing), consider all the other consequences that flow from having a criminal record.

And judge not…

**The information contained in this column should not be treated by readers as legal advice and should not be relied on without detailed legal counsel being sought.

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About the Author

Jeff Zilkowsky is a lawyer practicing at MacLean Law in the Lower Mainland and in Kelowna, and focuses his practice on family law and litigation.  

In his column, Jeff provides information about current legal events or points of interest or concern relating to the law. 

The information contained in Jeff’s column should not be used or relied upon as legal advice.

Comments are always appreciated and encouraged, so don’t hesitate to email Jeff at [email protected]

Visit Jeff’s website at www.jeffzilkowsky.com or visit the website of MacLean Law.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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